In 2016, around 43% of American workers occasionally did their business from home. As of 2018, it was estimated that, worldwide, 70% of employees worked remotely at least once a week. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an independent contractor, a freelancer, or an office employee, chances are good that you have a small home office area.
Unfortunately, as good as our intentions may be, many of us fail to consider that the same security obligations that apply at a formal workplace should also be implemented in our home offices. Here are some quick and easy ways to ensure that your home office has everything it needs to be a safe, functional workspace.
Develop a Fire Escape Plan
It’s easy to think of all those educational films as nostalgic relics from grade school, but it’s worth your time – and your peace of mind – to develop a fire escape plan for your home office. If the main door is closed off by fire, how would you get out? Is there more than one escape route you could use?
Identify all the exits from your home office, and determine an outside meeting place to rejoin with other members of the household. This is also a good time to eliminate any trip hazards, such as extension cords, piles of books, boxes, or loose files and papers.
Make Sure Your Office is Secure & Safe
For many of us, home is shared with housemates or family members. A lock on your office door will help keep out any curious young explorers, eliminating the chance of accidental injury – or crayon-covered client reports – while you’re away. Locks also help make it that much harder for thieves to access your files and computer records.
Introduce a similar measure of security to your computer, too. If you don’t already have anti-virus or firewall software, now is the time to find and install them. This helps protect your digital information from theft and allows you to work securely online. Arrange regular data backups, as this will save you having to start from square one in the event of a power outage or surge.
You’ll also want to make sure that your workspace is safe for people, too. Make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed, and check to verify that all electrical outlets are properly grounded.
Schedule Document Shredding Services
There’s no argument that much of our work takes place on a computer, but as recently as 2015, 1 of every 5 data breaches involved the theft of physical files. Stacks of paper are a fire and tripping hazard, but if they’re stolen (even after you place them outside for trash pickup), they can become a liability that costs thousands of dollars to recover from.
There is a quick and easy way to deal with sensitive physical documents, and it’s as close as your nearest telephone. Document shredding services will often come right to your front door, and their machinery will shred papers into tiny confetti-like pieces. The particles will even be recycled, guaranteeing that no matter how much a thief might rummage through your trash, they won’t find anything valuable to steal.
The same goes for old cell phones, hard drives, or tablets. We’ve all had it happen – we’re working as normal, but a misplaced elbow or the fumble of a hand sends one of our smart devices plummeting to the floor. If this happens, it’s easy to want to resell your device to obtain some starter cash for a replacement. However, if you stored any kind of sensitive information on the device’s memory, you’re going to need to have it professionally destroyed.
Formatting the hard drive only superficially removes the data. If someone with the right experience and the inclination gets their hands on your old hard drive, they could access everything you ever stored on it. Most document shredding services will also offer hard drive destruction, which is what it sounds like: the drive platter and disk of the device are physically crushed, eliminating the possibility of data retrieval.
Establish Regular Checks
All the care and preparation you pour into your office space at the beginning of the year will be wasted if it’s not regularly maintained. At least once a month, clean up your office, remove any clutter, and verify that all your safety gear and security protocols are functioning as they should be. It may be helpful to assign a specific day, such as the last Friday of the month, for this task.
The first month of the new year is the perfect time to get everything organized and settled. A little planning now will pave the way for you to make the most of the months to come.
For more information on our document shredding services and how they can help you take charge of your year, give us a call at (602) 441-3339. You can also contact A-1 Shredding online and request a personalized service quote.